Movie Review: ‘One Shot’

Review by Bradley Smith

Guns, more guns, and one shot to save Washington D.C. One Shot takes a familiar plot, a terrorist attack on a CIA compound, and gives it a real-time twist giving the audience a chance to feel either the urgency and suspense or feel like they are watching a live play. The story, action, and cinematography work well enough together to create an entertaining film.

The film opens inside a helicopter that is nearing an island with a CIA black site prison. On board the helicopter is a squad of Navy SEALs led by Lt. Jake Harris (Scott Adkins; Max Cloud, Ip Man 4, Zero Dark Thirty) and CIA analyst Zoe Anderson (Ashley Greene; Twilight). They are on a simple mission to retrieve a prisoner that Anderson feels is the only person who can help them locate a bomb. But their mission his a few snags, first by Site Manager Jack Yorke (Ryan Phillippe; I Know What You Did Last Summer, Playing By Heart) who refuses to release the prisoner, then by a group of insurgents who are after the same prisoner to silence him. Bullets start flying in both directions as the good guys try to protect the prisoner, get him to talk, and get him safely off the island. The occasional pause is taken for dialog, knife attacks (reminiscent of the video game Metal Gear Solid), or an insiders look at the insurgents’ perspective.

The beauty of the film, or major distraction depending of your point of view, is the filming technique employed through the entire film. The movie is presented as one 90-minute shot, hence the title, One Shot. The film does not cut to different angles, or to different perspectives; when the perspective switches from good guys to bad guys, it is because the two were close and the camera just turned from one to the other. I found it amazing to watch, but I admit it took my attention away from the story at times. I had not really paid attention to the synopsis or seen any trailers beforehand, so I did not realize this technique was being used until shortly after they excited the helicopter at the beginning. From then on, during the first viewing, I was mostly focused on the camera shots and transitions. I.e., the thought “did the cameraman just crawl backwards through a tunnel” crossed my mind once. Had to watch a second time to fully appreciate the story and how the camerawork aids the story.

Scott Adkins is great as the lead Navy SEAL. Large chucks of the film follow his character, literally, as he tries to protect others, argue with those in charge, or take down a horde of insurgents one by one. And then the camera turns and he has vanished; we do not get to see how he got away or were he went as the central focus switches to the bad guys for a brief time. (See how I am still thinking about the camerawork.) Overall, for one reason or another, I enjoyed this film and would cautiously recommend it to action fans.

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